Austin Living: Jane Taylor Academy of Dance brings 22nd annual ‘Nutcracker’ performance to Paramount Theatre

Published 6:59 pm Tuesday, November 28, 2023

By Amanda Lillie

For 22 years, the Jane Taylor Academy of Dance has been enchanting audiences with its annual rendition of “The Nutcracker,” and this year will be no different.

With the 22nd annual performance at the Paramount Theatre just around the corner, dance academy owner and teacher Jane Taylor reflected on the remarkable journey that’s been her six-decade career.

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“This is my 60th year of teaching! I’m blessed,” Taylor said. “‘The Nutcracker’ is our gift to the community to get everyone in the Christmas spirit.”

The dance academy, although small in scale, has always strived to capture the essence of “The Nutcracker” in a unique way. While larger dance companies have the added benefit of grandiose sets and elaborate scenery, Taylor’s approach emphasizes the technical artistry of the dancers and the rich narrative of the ballet.

“We’re a very small dance studio. I’ve been to beautiful performances of ‘The Nutcracker’ with very large dance companies. We do our performances very small, but I think it really sets the scene of the story of ‘The Nutcracker’,” she said. “We practice very hard with our dancers to do the Sugarplum Fairy and Clara, who has a special part with her brother.”

Find this story and more in the November-December edition of Austin Living Magazine, now out!

One unique – and crowd favorite – aspect of Taylor’s production is the involvement of parents, especially fathers, who step onto the stage to dance with their daughters. 

“The dads are the hit, I think. The dads graciously dance with their daughters, and some of the mothers dance too in the party scene,” Taylor said. “If the fathers are a little apprehensive, we have grandpas who will dance.” 

This year’s production involves a cast of 35 dedicated dancers, including the academy’s youngest dancer at just two years old. Taylor and her team began preparations as early as September, with parents joining in for rehearsals in October.

The upcoming performance of “The Nutcracker” is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9 at the Paramount Theatre. The Paramount holds a special place in Taylor’s heart, as it was the site of her parents’ romantic beginnings. 

“If it weren’t for that Paramount Theatre, I wouldn’t be here,” Taylor said with a laugh. “In 1940, my mom says my father took her on a date to the Paramount to see ‘Gone with the Wind,’ and during intermission, he asked her to marry him.”

While “The Nutcracker” remains a beloved cornerstone of the dance academy’s annual performances, the dancers can also be found at other community events throughout the year. 

For years, the dancers have auditioned and been chosen to perform at the Rochester Cancer Telethon, which Taylor said is a big hit with them.

Jane Taylor leads dancers through warm-ups as they prepare for their annual showing of “The Nutcracker.” Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“The children love to do that, so hopefully we’ll get in again,” she said.

The dance academy also performs at the Bandshell on July 3 each year. 

The upcoming performance on Dec. 9 at the Paramount Theatre will be a donation-only event, with all proceeds going to support the historic theater. The Jane Taylor Dance Company encourages everyone to attend and contribute to this worthy cause.

As she celebrates 60 years of teaching, Taylor and her dancers look forward to continuing their tradition of bringing the magic of “The Nutcracker” to life for the community. 

For more information about upcoming performances, find “Jane Taylor Academy of Dance” on Facebook.